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Dead Man's Folly

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Dead Man's Folly

Dead Man's Folly
Dust-jacket illustration of the US (true first) edition. See Publication history (below) for UK first edition jacket image.
Author Agatha Christie
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Crime novel
Publisher Dodd, Mead and Company
Publication date
October 1956
Media type Print (hardback & paperback)
Pages 216 (first edition, hardback))
Preceded by Hickory Dickory Dock
Followed by The Burden

Dead Man's Folly is a work of detective fiction by Agatha Christie and first published in the US by Dodd, Mead and Company in October 1956[1] and in the UK by the Collins Crime Club on 5 November of the same year.[2] The US edition retailed at $2.95[1] and the UK edition at twelve shillings and sixpence (12/6).[2] It features Hercule Poirot and Ariadne Oliver.


  • Plot summary 1
  • List of Characters 2
  • Literary significance and reception 3
  • Adaptations 4
    • 1986 Film 4.1
    • Radio 4.2
    • Television 4.3
  • Video game adaptation 5
  • Publication history 6
  • International titles 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Plot summary

Poirot is summoned to Nasse House in Devon by Ariadne Oliver, who is staging a Murder Hunt as part of a summer fête the next day. At Nasse House, Mrs Oliver explains that small aspects of her plans for the Murder Hunt have been changed by requests from people in the house rather deviously, until a real murder would not surprise her.

The wealthy George Stubbs owns Nasse House. His much younger wife is the beautiful Hattie, Lady Stubbs. She shows interest in fine clothes and jewellery only, appearing simple to all but her husband's secretary, Miss Brewis. Hattie was introduced to him a year earlier by Amy Folliat, the last of the family who owned the estate for centuries. Widowed, Mrs Folliat lost her two sons during the War. With death duties very high post-war, she had to sell the ancestral home and grounds to keep it intact.[3] She took on the orphaned Hattie, introducing her in society. Mrs Folliat rents the lodge on the estate. Michael Weyman, an architect, is on site to design a tennis court; he criticises the inappropriate location of a recently built folly. Sir George shouts at three young tourists who cross his private property; they are a Dutch woman, an Italian woman, and a man wearing a shirt decorated with turtles.

On the day of the fête, Hattie receives a letter from her cousin, Etienne de Sousa, who will visit that day; she is upset by his abrupt visit. A local Girl Guide, Marlene Tucker, waits in the boathouse to pose as the dead victim when a player finds the key to enter. Her first visitor is Miss Brewis with a tray of refreshments at tea time, at Hattie's request. With Mrs. Oliver, Poirot discovers Marlene dead in the boathouse. Hattie cannot be found. Mrs. Oliver produces an abundance of theories to explain the murder and the disappearance, while the police and Poirot narrow the field from all attending the fête, to those familiar with the Murder Hunt. The investigation focuses first on Etienne de Sousa and briefly on Amanda Brewis. Further confusion is added by the behaviour of the Legges, staying in a cottage on the estate and whose marriage is in trouble. After weeks of no progress, Poirot visits Devon again, learning that Hattie is still missing. Merdell, the old boatman, is dead by accident, and was Marlene's grandfather. Poirot puts together several stray clues: Marlene's grandfather had seen a woman's body in the woods; Marlene received small sums of money used to make small purchases, now in her younger sister's possession; Merdell told Poirot that there would "always be Folliats at Nasse House". Poirot tells the police, who find the evidence to support his solution.

In the

External links

  1. ^ a b "American Tribute to Agatha Christie". 1956-07-20. Retrieved 2014-04-28. 
  2. ^ a b Chris Peers, Ralph Spurrier and Jamie Sturgeon (March 1999). Collins Crime Club – A checklist of First Editions (Second Edition). Dragonby Press. p. 15. 
  3. ^ George Worsley (2008). "England's Lost Homes" 52 (8). History Today. Retrieved 25 October 2013. 
  4. ^ The Times Literary Supplement, 21 December 1956 (p. 761)
  5. ^ The Times, 15 November 1956 (p. 13)
  6. ^ The Observer, 18 November 1956 (p. 12)
  7. ^ Barnard, Robert (1990). A Talent to Deceive – an appreciation of Agatha Christie (Revised edition). Fontana Books. p. 191.  
  8. ^ "David Suchet to star in final Poirot adaptations". 14 November 2011. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  9. ^ Dead Man's Folly at the Internet Movie Database Season 13 Episode 3 expected release 30 October 2013; retrieved 26 October 2013
  10. ^ Henry Chu (19 July 2013). "David Suchet bids farewell to Agatha Christie's Poirot". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 26 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Holdings at the British Library (Newspapers – Colindale). Shelfmark: NPL LON LD116.


  • Bulgarian: Двойно убийство /Dvoyno ubiystvo/ (Double Murder)
  • Czech: Hra na vraždu (Game of Murder)
  • Dutch: Zoek de moordenaar (Find the murderer)
  • Estonian: Surnud mehe temp (Dead Man's Folly)
  • Finnish: Kuolleen miehen huvimaja
  • French: Poirot joue le jeu (Poirot plays the game)
  • German: Wiedersehen mit Mrs. Oliver (Mrs. Oliver revisited)
  • Hungarian: Gloriett a hullának (Folly for the Dead Body), Gyilkosvadászat (Murder Hunt)
  • Italian: La sagra del delitto (The Crime Party)
  • Indonesian: Kubur Berkubah (Domed Tomb)
  • Japanese: Shisha no ayamachi (死者のあやまち The Corpse's Mistake)
  • Norwegian: Leken blir alvor (The play gets Serious)
  • Portuguese (Brazil): A Extravagância do Morto (Dead Man's Folly)
  • Portuguese (Portugal): Poirot e o Jogo Macabro (Poirot and the Macabre Game), Jogo Macabro (Macabre Game)
  • Romanian: Crima din oglindă (Dead Man's Folly)
  • Russian: Причуда (=Prichuda, A Folly), Причуда мертвеца (=Prichuda mertvetsa, Dead Man's Folly), Конец человеческой глупости (=Konets chelovecheskoy gluposti, End of Human Foolishness)
  • Serbo-Croatian: Vašar zločina (Crime Fair)
  • Spanish: El Templete de Nasse House (The Pavilion of Nasse House)
  • Swedish: Död mans fåfänga (Dead Man's Folly)
  • Turkish: Sonuncu Kurban (The last victim)

International titles

In the UK the novel was first serialised in the weekly magazine John Bull in six abridged instalments from 11 August (Volume 100, Number 2615) to 15 September 1956 (Volume 100, Number 2620) with illustrations by "Fancett".[11]

The novel was first serialised in the US in Collier's Weekly in three abridged instalments from 20 July (Volume 138, Number 2) to 17 August 1956 (Volume 138, Number 4) with illustrations by Robert Fawcett.

  • 1956, Dodd Mead and Company (New York), October 1956, Hardback, 216 pp
  • 1956, Collins Crime Club (London), 5 November 1956, Hardback, 256 pp
  • 1957, Pocket Books (New York), Paperback, 178 pp
  • 1960, Fontana Books (Imprint of HarperCollins), Paperback, 192 pp
  • 1966, Pan Books, Paperback, 189 pp
  • 1967, Ulverscroft Large-print Edition, Hardcover, 205 pp
Dustjacket illustration of the UK First Edition (book was first published in the US)

Publication history

On 15 October 2009, I-play released a downloadable hidden object game based on Dead Man's Folly (see the external links). This is the 3rd game in a series of Oberon Games' hidden object games based on Agatha Christie's novels, the first two are based on Death on the Nile, and Peril at End House. The 4th game in the series is based on 4:50 from Paddington.

Video game adaptation

The adaptation has some differences from the novel as written by Christie. The setting is moved from the early 1950s to the late 1930s; accordingly, James Folliat – a war deserter in the novel – is here a wayward womaniser whom Mrs Folliat sends to South Africa, where he fakes his death in an aviation accident and returns to Nasse in the identity of Sir George Stubbs. Mrs Masterton becomes Mrs Warburton, Captain Warburton's wife; Marlene's sister, Marilyn, becomes an older sister named Gertie, but serves the same function as Marilyn in the novel; the characters of George the valet, Miss Lemon, the man in the turtle-printed shirt, and Marlene's parents are deleted. The adaptation has the Police digging up the folly foundations and Poirot laying out the truth before Mrs Folliat; it ends with Mrs Folliat and her son together off-screen with two gunshots heard before the police can stop them. Poirot both acknowledges and approves of this murder-suicide with the final word of the episode: "Bon". This is a change from the novel, which ends with the police digging up the folly foundations, and leaves the ultimate fate of the Folliats untold.

The novel was adapted with Stephanie Leonidas (Hattie Stubbs), Sinéad Cusack (Amy Folliat), Rebecca Front (Amanda Brewis), Tom Ellis (D.I. Bland), Martin Jarvis (Captain Warburton), Rosalind Ayres (Mrs Warburton), and Zoë Wanamaker in her sixth and final appearance as Ariadne Oliver. This was the last episode of the series to be filmed (although not the last to air), with production completed in June 2013.[9][10] The telefilm was shot mainly at Agatha Christie's home, Greenway Estate, the setting she used, along with its old boathouse on the River Dart, for the novel.


John Moffatt starred as Poirot in the BBC Radio 4 dramatisation broadcast in 2007, with Julia McKenzie as Ariadne Oliver.


The novel was made as a film with Peter Ustinov and Jean Stapleton starring as Poirot and Oliver in a 1986 adaptation set in the present-day. It was shot largely on location at West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire.

1986 Film


Robert Barnard: "Highly traditional recipe, but not done with the same conviction as in the thirties. Nobody much is what they seem, and old sins cast long shadows. Mrs Oliver looms large here, as she was frequently to do from now on, both in Poirot books and in others."[7]

Maurice Richardson of The Observer (18 November 1956) pointed out the similarity between the house portrayed in the book and Christie's own and summed up, "Stunning but not unguessable solution. Nowhere near a vintage Christie but quite a pleasing table-read."[6]

The anonymous review in The Times of 15 November 1956, was also somewhat damning; "Dead Man's Folly is not Miss Agatha Christie at her best. The murder and the solution of it are ingenious, but then, with Miss Christie, they always are, and it is pleasant to watch M. Hercule Poirot at work again. The character drawing is flat and facile, however, and the dialogue, always Miss Christie's weak point, disastrous."[5]

Anthony Quinton began his review column in the Times Literary Supplement of 21 December 1956, writing, "Miss Agatha Christie's new Poirot story comes first in this review because of this author's reputation and not on its own merits, which are disappointingly slight. They consist almost wholly in the appearance yet once more of certain profoundly familiar persons, scenes and devices. Poirot is on hand with his superb English, based, one supposes, on the middle line in the French lessons in the Children's Encyclopaedia, but the little grey cells are rather subdued." He set up the basics of the plot and then continued, "The solution is of the colossal ingenuity we have been conditioned to expect but a number of the necessary red herrings are either unexplained or a little too grossly ad hoc. People are never candid about their vices so there is no need to take seriously the protestations of detective addicts about their concern with the sheer logic of their favourite reading. What should be the real appeal of Dead Man's Folly, however, is not much better than its logic. The scene is really excessively commonplace, there are too many characters and they are very, very flat."[4]

Literary significance and reception

  • Hercule Poirot, the Belgian private detective
  • Ariadne Oliver, the celebrated author
  • Inspector Bland, the investigating officer
  • Sergeant Frank Cottrell, a policeman in the case
  • Constable Bob Hoskins, a policeman in the case
  • Sir George Stubbs, owner of Nasse House
  • Hattie, Lady Stubbs, George's wife
  • Etienne de Sousa, Lady Stubbs's cousin
  • Amanda Brewis, George's secretary
  • Amy Folliat, whose family previously owned Nasse House
  • Mr Masterton, member of Parliament
  • Mrs Masterton, his wife
  • Captain Jim Warburton, agent for Mr Masterton
  • Michael Weyman, an architect
  • Alec Legge, an atomic physicist
  • Sally Legge, his wife
  • Marlene Tucker, a Girl Guide
  • Marylin Tucker, Marlene's younger sister
  • Mr and Mrs Tucker, Marlene and Marylin's parents
  • Merdell, the 92-year-old boatman
  • Henden, the butler
  • A young Italian woman on holiday, a hiker with rucksack
  • A young Dutch woman on holiday, a hiker with rucksack
  • A young man in a shirt with turtles on it
List of Characters
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